Permanent Supportive Housing to experience transition, growth in 2017

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An architect rendering of the Commons at South Cumminsville, a National Church Residences Permanent Supportive Housing community that will break ground in Cincinnati later this year.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

National Church Residences’ Permanent Supportive Housing portfolio is set to experience both transition and growth in 2017.

With the retirement of Dave Kayuha, the organization’s longtime Chief Administrative Officer who has overseen PSH since its inception in 2003, a plan was put in place to transition the portfolio into Affordable Housing under the direction of Steve Bodkin.

“I’m proud to be part of Permanent Supportive Housing, a mission that serves such a critically vulnerable population,” said Steve, who is the Chief Operating Officer of National Church Residences Housing Division. “I look forward to working with this dedicated, talented, and caring staff to continue driving mission impact.”

Since the Commons at Grant became National Church Residences’ first Permanent Supportive Housing community, the portfolio has expanded to nine PSH communities with a total of 885 units in Columbus, Toledo and Atlanta.

In 2017 the program will expand yet again when Cincinnati’s Commons at South Cumminsville breaks ground.

“Commons at South Cumminsville is the result of a long history of National Church Residences trying to build Permanent Supportive Housing in Cincinnati. It dates back to 2008,” said Amy Rosenthal, National Church Residences Senior Project Leader. “We’ve had our struggles and hiccups, but now we have a home in a community that has welcomed us.”

Commons at South Cumminsville will house 80 PSH units in a building located on Herron Avenue in the northern Cincinnati neighborhood.

“We have a non-profit, Working in Neighborhoods, that has been a great help to us,” Amy said. “Now we have this welcoming community that sees the need for supportive housing in Cincinnati and see that this project will put a positive spotlight on their community, too. They really understand how our supportive housing communities change people’s lives.”

The $15 million new construction project is expected to break ground sometime in late 2017.

Napoletan on a mission to end Alzheimer’s

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Ann Napoletan was presented with the “Spirit of Philanthropy” award by Jeff Wolf, National Church Residences Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact, at the organization’s national conference in September.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

COLUMBUS – It was a bit of a shock when Ann Napoletan’s daughter put a hand on her shoulder during the awards presentation at the National Church Residences national conference.

“I didn’t know why she was there,” recalled Ann, an Treasury Manager at the home office in Columbus. “I thought maybe something was wrong.”

Ann was sitting at a table full of colleagues, who had suspiciously made sure their table was toward the front of the room. Little did Ann know that she was the only one at the table – including her daughter – who did not know she was about to receive the National Church Residences “Spirit of Philanthropy” award from Jeff Wolf, Senior Vice President of Philanthropy and Mission Impact.

“I had absolutely no idea,” Ann said. “I was just blown away. Absolutely blown away. I still am.”

From 9 to 5 (and sometimes even longer) Ann crunches numbers as part of the team of accountants who manage National Church Residences’ budgets. But it is the tireless work she does on the side that truly embodies the organization’s “Spirit of Philanthropy.”

Four years ago Ann lost her mother, Marilyn, to Alzheimer’s Disease shortly after her 76th birthday.

“My mom was the most lively, full-of-life person,” Ann said, sitting for this interview on what would have been Marilyn’s 80th birthday. “My daughter doesn’t want to see the words Alzheimer’s or dementia. I’m the opposite.

“I have to know there’s a greater purpose. For me that’s advocating, teaching, writing, helping other families. It’s almost like a second career.”

After her mother’s passing, Ann began a blog called, “The Long and Winding Road” at www.ALZjourney.com.

“The best way I can keep mom’s memory alive is to keep telling her story,” Ann said.

As her writing gained popularity, she was asked to contribute to the online content for organization’s that dealt directly with Alzheimer’s care.

In 2013 she was asked to co-moderate an online support group called, “Us Against Alzheimer’s.”

“This year I launched a non-profit in my mom’s name,” she added. “I had done so much fundraising for other groups, I just wanted to have a little more control of where the fundraising dollars were going.”

Marilyn’s Legacy: A World Without Alzheimer’s is Ann’s non-profit that is focused on not only finding a cure for Alzheimer’s but also providing unique opportunities to benefit individuals currently living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“I know that I’m making a direct impact on these people’s lives,” Ann said.

The fact that National Church Residences made a point to recognize Ann for her work made it a little more special.

“It was a great experience to be recognized,” she said. “To be at a company that cares about things like that … that it’s not all bottom-line oriented. I couldn’t ask for more.”

Ann added that it is because of her experience in facing her mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease that she found her way to National Church Residences in June of 2014.

“I am at National Church Residences because of my mom,” she said. “I was at Nationwide for 27 years. I was in a good place financially and career-wise, but I wasn’t fulfilled at all.”

With a background in treasury, Ann said that it was like divine intervention that the position she currently holds became available at the exact time she felt the need to make a change.

“This treasury job almost fell into my lap,” she said. “This is where I’m meant to be. Even on a bad day, that over-arching mission is still there. I gave up a lot, but I’m so happy here.”

‘Richwood desperately needs your hope…’

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Volunteer Colton Naylor helps unload a van of supplies brought to Edgewood Village from the National Church Residences home office in Columbus on Friday, July 1.

By LANCE CRANMER                                                               lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

RICHWOOD, WV – “Don’t take the high road. That’s where they had a lot of the damage,” Kim Carpenter, the property manager at Edgewood Village, told me over the phone as my rented van rumbled slowly down Route 39. “Take the lower road. That’s Edgewood, where our building is. It’s a little bit clearer.”

It had been nearly a week since 10 inches of rain battered Richwood overnight, causing the Cherry River to overflow its banks and put much of the city under water, but the cleanup was still ongoing.

Earlier in the week, the staff at the National Church Residences home office in Columbus began gathering donated food, water and supplies to send to Richwood to aid the residents of Edgewood Village, a 34-unit low-income senior community that the organization has managed since 1991.

The outpouring of donations was nothing less than amazing.

In two days the central office staff pulled together enough supplies to completely pack a 9-foot UHaul van that I, along with my fiancée Kristen, would drive to the building on July 1.

Six hours after leaving Columbus – one road closure at the heavily-flooded community of Belva, and one delay due to road damage on Route 39 between Summersville and Richwood, later – we were nearing our destination.

Turning down Edgewood Avenue and heading toward the city, the views were contrasting: At first, neighbors working together to clean out a home, hauling waterlogged furniture out into the yard. Then, a house completely off its foundation, washed over the cliff that overlooks the river.

This wasn’t my first visit to Richwood.

My journalism career started in southern West Virginia in 2001 and I’d stumbled upon the Nicholas County city of about 2,000 when I’d been sent to do a story about the Cherry River Festival – a quaint street fair the city held each year.

Though I’d only been there less than a dozen times, I’d always had an affinity for Richwood. Walking down Main Street, you can feel Richwood’s history around you. It is easy to feel the bustle of the mountain boom town it once was in the 1930s.

But the closure of the sawmill, the clothespin factory (once the largest in the world) and the nearby coal mines drove its residents elsewhere looking for work. Richwood lost a quarter of its population in the 1950s, and then another 21 percent in the 1980s.

Richwood had struggled throughout its history, but the people who remained were proud of their city and worked hard to keep it alive.

When I began working for National Church Residences in the winter of 2014, I noticed that Edgewood Village was one of ours. I remembered seeing the building the last time I was in town. I wondered if I’d ever have a reason to pay it another visit. I had hoped I would. I never thought it would be on these terms.

As we pulled up out front of Edgewood Village, it was obvious that our residents were luckier than some others in Richwood. The flood waters had rolled downhill from the higher elevated north end of town toward Edgewood Village, which sits in the valley nearer to the Cherry River, and deposited inches of thick mud all around the building. Luckily, though, the floodwaters never entered Edgewood Village, instead passing just feet around the building and filling the small ravine behind it and completely destroying the Dairy Queen next door.

“We lost power when they had to shut down the sub-station down the road,” Kim Mills, the building’s maintenance technician told me. “But luckily, just last year we purchased a generator for the building.”

Kim let his residents know that Kristen and I had arrived and a small group of them met us at the front door of Edgewood Village to help unload the truck. At the same time, Tim Naylor, a friend and former co-worker of mine from Fayetteville, WV, arrived with his son Colton to volunteer their help.

Within an hour our truck was unloaded and the building’s community room was overflowing with supplies.

A few at a time, residents began to sort through the donated goods, modestly picking out only what they needed – leaving the rest for someone else who they probably felt was worse off than they were.

With a long trip home ahead of us, Kristen and I paused to take a few photos inside the building before walking the few blocks up into the center of town to get a first-hand look at the damage.

The journalist in me wanted to document the devastation to spread the word to a larger audience about what had happened. But I had no desire to be intrusive. I took photos only of the National Guardsmen working to clear the debris and the glaring signs of destruction left behind when the water receeded.

The Oakford, a small tavern on Oakford Avenue, the city’s largest north/south running street, had its door open. As I approached it a man stepped outside to tell me, “We’re closed indefinitely. But I think she’s open a few doors over.”

Just two people sat in Carolyn’s, a pool hall a few buildings north on Oakford Avenue.

“The flood started up on the hill and rolled down. All the houses up there, the water just went right through them,” the woman behind the bar said. “My house got it bad.”

Still, though, on that Friday afternoon, she was at work.

Kristen and I sat for just a brief conversation before we began the nearly 300 mile journey back home.

It took some time over the long weekend to let everything I’d seen soak in. It felt good to help. It felt good to have made the journey and done something – anything – that might have made a difference. It’s still hard to tell myself that anyone could do enough.

It’s hard to know that people are still digging out from the mess, still pulling their destroyed furniture and belongings into the street to be hauled away, still dealing with the feeling of helplessness that was dumped on them along with millions of gallons of water.

Today I received an e-mail from Kim Carpenter updating us all on the situation in Richwood and thanking those of us at the central office for our kindness.

“Richwood still looks like a war zone, with river rock lining the sidewalks and streets,” she said. “Cleanup will take months. The local Rite Aid has passed out flyers saying they will be rebuilding here in town. I have no heard anything about the Dollar General store, or whether the new grocery store will continue to rebuild. Most residents of Richwood did not have flood insurance, and those that did had limited coverage.”

She added that the donated items will greatly help the residents of Edgewood Village who now are without any local stores where they could buy everyday items.

In the last week, Edgewood Village has filled two vacancies with Richwood residents who lost everything in the flood.

One family, the Marlowes, had been in the same house for 60 years.

“The flood completely demolished their home,” Kim said. “They were in water up to their necks and climbed the stairs to their attic. I believe they may have been there for over 24 hours, perhaps even longer, before they were rescued.

“During their initial application process (to live at Edgewood Village), Mrs. Marlow’s only concern was that they lost their beautiful gardens.”

West Virginia still needs help. I encourage you to donate to the National Church Residences foundation, the Red Cross, the United Way or any of the countless charities set up to help.

“Thank you for continuing the Mission, as the City of Richwood desperately needs your hope, compassion and daily prayers,” Kim said. “God bless you all!”

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Edgewood Village maintenance technician Kim Mills rolls a cart full of donated items into the community room at Edgewood Village.

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The West Virginia National Guard was still working at cleanup efforts a week after the flood that tore through Richwood.

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The mud that covered the parking lot at Edgewood Village in Richwood, West Virginia, is now a large pile of dirt sitting in the building’s parking lot.

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Edgewood Village in Richwood, West Virginia.

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A portion of the donated items after being brought into the community room at Edgewood Village.

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Items damaged during the flood in Richwood were dragged out into the streets awaiting removal by the crews from the National Guard.

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Welcome to Richwood.

Unloading the Van

Unloading the van.

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National Church Residences Media/Public Relations Specialist Lance Cranmer and his fiancee Kristen drove the van full of donated supplies from the central office in Columbus to Edgewood Village in Richwood, West Virginia.

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National Guard dump trucks haul away debris from the flood while a single childrens’ sandal lies next to the street looking south on Oakford Avenue in Richwood, WV.

 

Bristol Village residents make appeal to aid refugees

Members of the Bristol Village Appeal team pose with some of their donated items. Pictured are Lian The-Milliner, Sherry Sapineza, Yvonne Jones, Nancy Sewart and Hillary Lewis.

Members of the Bristol Village Appeal team pose with some of their donated items. Pictured are Lian The-Mulliner, Sherry Sapineza, Diana Nasman, Yvonne Jones, Nancy Sewart and Hillary Lewis.

By LANCE CRANMER                                            lcranmer@nationalchurchresidences.org

WAVERLY, Ohio – It’s not unusual for Melanie Williams to get phone calls from individuals interested in making donations to her organization, Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS). Especially in the months since the crisis in Syria has sent thousands of refugees leaving their homeland and looking to find asylum across Europe.

But when a large senior community contacted CRIS the way the residents at Bristol Village did, that was different.

“It’s very unique,” said Williams, the organization’s Resource Developer and Volunteer Manager. “Typically we get church congregations and different community groups occasionally wanting to chip in and help. But this is a pretty unique group.”

Williams said the Bristol Village residents contacted her at the CRIS office in Columbus and initially wanted to sponsor a refugee family. She, however, suggested a way the residents could help multiple families in need.

“I suggested they could donate Welcome Kit items. The household things that every new arrival gets,” she said. “Providing those for a family really off-sets the costs for them coming to the United States.”

The result of that has turned into the Bristol Village Appeal, a philanthropic drive set up by the Bristol Village residents to collect both monetary and goods donations to help refugees coming to Ohio.

“I provided some ideas and they’ve really run with it,” said Williams.

“We’ve all been watching what’s been happening to the refugees on TV,” said Diana Nasman, a Bristol Village resident and one of the organizers of the appeal. “Many folks here were familiar with the Church World Services and through them I was able to track down CRIS. I got on the phone and called a lot of people.”

Throughout October, the Bristol Village Appeal has been collecting donations of kitchen, bathroom and bedroom items in donation boxes in the Bristol Village Activity Center. There has also been a bank account set up through the FNB Bank location at Bristol Village.

“We’ve already gotten a lot of boxes,” said Nasman. “We’ve been getting a lot of donations from our residents here.

“We’ve also been reaching out to some of the area churches, but it’s Bristol Village that does the packing and transportation.”

The appeal runs through October 30 and is not only limited to residents of Bristol Village. Nasman said that anyone who wishes to make a contribution to the Bristol Village effort is welcome.

Once the donations have been gathered, they are passed on to CRIS, which uses them to help refugees that have come to Ohio.

“We provide certain core services to newly arriving refugees for their first 90 days in the US,” said Williams. “This includes finding them housing, providing necessary household items. We help them apply for Social Security, enroll in schools, apply for government benefits and enroll in employment readiness classes. The goal is self-sufficiency.”

To make a donation to the Bristol Village Appeal, contact Diana Nasman at (740) 947-4109, Evelyn Baker at (740) 947-9370 or Norma Dupire at (740) 912-9551.

Checks may also be mailed to:

Community Refugee and Immigration Services

Attn: Melanie Williams

1925 E. Dublin-Granville Road, Suite 102

Columbus, OH  43299

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